Expert Insights from Program Leaders
May 23, 2022
Season 2: Episode 39 -Karen Hills, MS, PA-C Chief of Educational Development-PAEA

We speak with Ms. Karen Hills, MS, PA-C; Chief of Educational Development for PAEA about her path to becoming a PA, her various roles in the profession, and about some of the trends in PA education.

We speak with Ms. Karen Hills, MS, PA-C; Chief of Educational Development for PAEA about her path to becoming a PA, her various roles in the profession, and about some of the trends in PA education.

The purpose of this podcast is to provide news and information on the PA profession and is for informational purposes only. The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and guests and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policy of the University of Arizona.


Unknown Speaker  0:00  
We respectfully acknowledge the University of Arizona is on the land and territories of indigenous peoples. Today Arizona is home to 22 federally recognized tribes, with Tucson being home to the autumn and Yockey. committed to diversity and inclusion the university strives to build sustainable relationships with sovereign Native nations and indigenous communities through education offerings, partnerships and community service.

Unknown Speaker  0:33  
Welcome to this episode of the PA path podcast, I'm your host Lohenry Glad you could join us as we seek to better understand the PA profession as

Unknown Speaker  0:50  
you all are reaching out to the perhaps pre pas that the applicants that the students who are thinking gosh, what did I get myself into? I really think this is one of the best careers that somebody can get themselves into.

Unknown Speaker  1:07  
Welcome back to cheese and cheese, Episode 39. And today we are very good friends Miss Karen hills. Carrie is the chief of educational development for the physician system Education Association. She is a past president for P and EA, where she served both Stephanie and I on the board of directors. Before joining pa she was on faculty at Duke University's been programmed for 16 years. She was the program director from 2013 to 2017. Karen shares a unique perspective of PA education and she served on Capitol Hill before becoming a PA. And she has some really great insights into what PA is doing related to education in the post pandemic era. As always, you can learn more about our guests on our website at the PA path Podcast. I'm Tom. Good to see you

Unknown Speaker  2:00  
see you guys too. I'm very excited to be part of this conversation today. So thanks for inviting me,

Unknown Speaker  2:07  
you have such a rich history in the PA profession. And we kind of wanted to start off with you just sharing a little bit about your path to becoming a PA.

Unknown Speaker  2:14  
Oh, well, Kevin, thanks again for having me here. And I would love to tell you about my path to PA because I think it started when I was actually the executive director of the wellness Council of North Carolina. And I was working on a grant to bring health promotion activities and disease prevention to businesses and organizations across the state of North Carolina. And one of the things that I really noticed while undergoing or undertaking monitoring this grant was that there was really truly a lack of access to primary care. And so in order to have good health when you didn't have access to care, you know, it was hard. And so I thought, I think I want to be able to deliver primary care, and started investigating the PA profession. And basically thought, wow, this is a way that I could be part of that solution and bring integrated health promotion, disease prevention in a primary care arena. And so I applied to PA school and got in the same year that my daughter went off to kindergarten. And so I laughed in the sense of mom's go into school, and Caitlin's go into school. And, you know, it was it was a really, I felt like a good example for my daughter. But it was also good timing. And I think that experience of sort of wanting to bring those two worlds of health promotion, disease prevention, together with primary care, improving access, looking at the health disparities from a provider lens as well.

Unknown Speaker  3:57  
I think you bring up a really interesting point. Because so often for me and that stuff, I don't know if this has been your experience, the moms that come into our programs have to have their stuff together at home so well, in terms of managing expectations for family, and for school. I wonder if you could share a little bit about how you navigate that, because I think a lot of students maybe choose not to do this because they're afraid it's going to be too much.

Unknown Speaker  4:23  
Yeah, and you know, Kevin, I think that, that I, I really appreciate because I think a couple things, I felt like you know, I had a very supportive network. And obviously, my husband was on board with with me taking on this challenge. But I also recognized that, you know, we had a very kind of strict routine at home. So you know, we would all get home, we would eat dinner, I would help, Caitlin with any sort of readiness for school and luckily at kindergarten, you know, your homework isn't too challenging at that point, but still kind of getting her squared away and I wouldn't start, you know, my own PA studies until probably about eight o'clock at night. And so it was kind of fitting it in, after sort of everybody else's needs were met. But I also found that being maybe a little bit of an older students having gone back to school, I kind of had a good way of budgeting time and organizing my time and maximizing the classroom experience, utilizing my classmates that had expertise in areas that maybe I didn't have, just as I hoped that they leveraged my maybe prevention, health promotion expertise. And so that camaraderie of student community was something that was really valuable. But also, I think, just, you know, I think about being on inpatient rotations for internal medicine, which in my program, was essentially a 10 week slot, because you had two five week rotations. And I was not at home. And so I was living over at in Winston Salem, where I went to PA school, and I would say goodbye to my family on kind of Sunday afternoon. And I may depending if I wasn't on call over the weekend, come back and see them Friday afternoon, or Friday evening. Or then it might be if I was on call Saturday morning, you know, I might be heading back home. And I was about, Oh, look 30 Some minutes away. So it wasn't like I was, you know, in a far distant land it was, but it was still like I couldn't, you know, make those 6am rounding and live 30 plus minutes way or be on call and be 30 plus minutes away. So, you know, I really do have to acknowledge that my family was supportive and sort of my extended family of friends who were willing to help out sometimes if if I was busy, whether it was picking Kaitlyn up but at daycare or what have you. So I do think it's doable, for sure. I just think it's one where you gotta you got to plan and organize.

Unknown Speaker  7:13  
Yeah, and I think that's a really important point that you make for anyone who might be considering going to PA school. And I think it probably is very, as Kevin said, it may be sort of intimidating for someone who's trying to balance work in school and family and but to know that there are many people who do it and it takes the village not only on your on your home front, but but your PA classmates and your community that you have within the program as well. And I think that's one thing that the PA profession is known for is the community that really the camaraderie that really develops among a cohort of PhD students, both between the students themselves and with the faculty, I think most programs will will create a very supportive environment and really try to help students to the best of their ability manage and balance between academic responsibilities and home responsibilities.

Unknown Speaker  8:01  
Yeah, and I would say, too, I think just as we have been in the great disruption of COVID, 19, the last several years, I think that as really, educators have really been more in tune to some of those needs in the stretches that students may have as they had to navigate all of the things that people are navigating and so to me as we go forward, and take the lessons that we've learned from this time, I think that sort of compassionate workplace slash school plays hopefully is something that's here to stay.

Unknown Speaker  8:39  
Yeah, and stuff I was gonna say that brought a really good memory up for me, which is that kind of camaraderie that you develop in PA school. I think one of the smartest pas I've ever known as Michelle Roberts and Michelle was a relatively newly divorced mom of two who lived about 30 minutes away from the campus. And so there was a study group of us that were all a little bit non traditional students and all we do head over to Michelle's, she would make dinner for everybody, we'd hang out and read dinner kids and, and then after dinner, we helped put the kids to bed and then we'd study till two in the morning, United back home. So I think there are ways around it as part of that ba community that you said that really make it manageable.

Unknown Speaker  9:18  
Okay, and one of the things that strikes me as I reflect on your experience, and you know that your path through your professional career is just kind of the widely varied experiences that you've had, you have a past in Washington DC on the hill and your work in nonprofits and your work as a clinical PA and then as an educator, and LPA you've done a lot of things and so reflect on those things for us a little bit and maybe tell us a little bit about how each of those different things has kind of contributed to to who you are today as a PA and as a as a professional.

Unknown Speaker  9:53  
I love this question, Stephanie. And I think that it is interesting how all of those experience says have become connected and have that I've grown and built upon those early experiences as a staff assistant on Capitol Hill soon after college and before graduate school before PA school, and how that has influenced my life as a PA. And then certainly from a clinician educator perspective. So I'll start with the one of my first very first jobs out of college was working on Capitol Hill for the congressional Sunbelt Council, which was a caucus group made up of southern and southwestern members of Congress, and it was set up in a way that looked at issues that faced regional sort of impact, rather than partisan impact. And so it was, during the time, two of the the major issues that I can think of, and probably my, my most favorite, one that I worked on was infant mortality, and how across the south and southwestern states, you know, a true problem that in terms of if you were looking at legislation, how could you maximize from a regional perspective, how to assist with reducing infant mortality rates? I think what that experience taught me and how does that sort of then relate to my role as a pa, pa educator, was obviously that sort of comfort on Capitol Hill? And how does, how does it work? And who are the who are the players and I was in the room with names that we might all recognize, I certainly was in the room with staffers that had opportunities to, you know, like, how does that work? So like, if you're going to advocate for something related to PA practice, or, or pre pa education, things that I've done both with aapa and Pa EA for over the years, you know, kind of understanding how does that inner office, congressional office work? Who are sort of the decision makers? How do you maybe get your voice heard by the legislator, all of that I think has come to play in business sort of a really positive just experience to have in terms of being comfortable saying, Hey, here's the PA profession, here's what we need, here's what we can do, I think to is in a way that, you know, I think about being a clinician, I loved patient care. And I feel like though, when I was doing patient care, I missed some aspects of the broader sort of health perspective that I had at the Wellness Council, which is what kind of got me thinking about the educational arm. And I don't know, I've told this story before. And my my Duke friends know this story. So they they know it's okay, if I tell you all this, but when I was working in a family medicine practice in kind of a more rural town in in North Carolina, I came home one day, and in the mail, I had a flyer that was advertising the Duke pa teaching fellowship. And I opened it up and I read it and I was like, Oh my gosh, this sounds like the most amazing job in the entire world. Because, like everything, like you were a clinician, you were an educator, you were involved in sort of broader health initiatives. You it just sounded fabulous. And so I called my husband who was still at work, and I said, Gary, let me read you this. And he listened to it. And he said to me, he goes here, and that sounds exactly like you. And I said, I know I said, But you know, they have Duke graduate sitting in the wings that they've got ready for this job. This is a perfunctory mailer that they've sent out to say that they've they've advertised for the job. And he said, Well, you know, but why don't you apply? At the time we were living about? Probably 50 plus miles away from the Duke University PA program, and I'm like, oh, gosh, that's in a whole nother town that would be a commute or what have you, but he said, why don't why don't you apply? There's nothing to lose. And I said, Okay, so I apply for the the Teaching Fellowship position. Lo and behold, I am selected for that role. I am asked to stay as a clinical coordinator, I am asked to become the Associate Program Director and then in 2013, became the program director and I think, oh, wow, like each of those roles within the program afforded such amazing opportunities, but also the ability to be He just associated with such a renowned and distinguished program and to lead that program for five years before joining PAA was just amazing. And I think it was, it truly was I got a flyer in the mail and said, This just sounds like me. And it was,

Unknown Speaker  15:20  
I wonder if Karen, as you think back to that period of time, when you were at Duke, because Duke has done so many different things, they they've kind of led a lot of trends in PA education over the years at leadership trends, research trends, workforce research, there's just so many I could spend a whole session about it, but but when you look back to your time there, what are the things that you're most proud of, from your experiences?

Unknown Speaker  15:47  
Yeah, and I think Kevin to be part of all of those, those really both cutting edge and leading initiatives and having some small space in that, I think is such a privilege and such an honor, I would say things that I really feel good about in terms of really keeping a student centered focus on our, on the program and learners and really helping students to succeed and excel, I think the commitment to diversity that I think Duke has always had. But I think in terms of that was something that I felt obviously very strongly about and tried to lead in a space that recognize the equity and inclusive nature of our of the program. And I think, under the leadership of Jacqueline Barnett, that has continued in ways that have far exceeded some of the things that that I was able to accomplish in my tenure. The other thing that I had an opportunity to be pi on a number of HERSA grants. And so both the experience of grant writing, but bringing that sort of programmatic funding that helped us advance certain initiatives. And the last grant that was pi on was one that really brought a number of different folks together from the the Duke enterprise, if you will. So really working with faculty development, but not just pa faculty working with trying to bring veterans into the fold of students and making their path to becoming a PA easier was a component of that grant. And then the opioid work to make sure that students had education surrounding that and faculty had education around that to help to mitigate the terrible toll of the opioid crisis. Those were things that I think were particularly rewarding to me. And I think I think that that nature of the PA program leading within the institution in that space, was good for pas to be seen by the larger Duke Health System.

Unknown Speaker  18:18  
And I wonder we all have colleagues that we've heard at national meetings, talks about how packed our curricula are and how difficult it is for us to pivot to a new topic. So I wonder if you could speak to that from an educator perspective in terms of why Duke has chosen to pivot to these versus funded priorities, with the impact on the curriculum that that that comes out of that?

Unknown Speaker  18:41  
Yeah. And I think Kevin, your your question is, so is kind of recognizing sort of the the pivot or the need, and then seeing that the funding is what allows you to do that, you know, so it is that sense of being able to truly say, gosh, we we could do better in this space, how could we do better? Oh, funding would help us do better. Let's look at this funding proposal opportunity as a way to do what needs to be done. And so I think it's, it's a matter of really tailoring what you want to do to those funding requests. It's not sort of looking at the funding request, and then coming up and thinking, Okay, now what, let me think of something that I'm going to do. And I think that as you sort of talked about at the beginning, that that forward thinking and that sense of well, what does what does the profession need? What does education need and how do we make that happen? And how do we get the resources to make that happen? And I think the the pilots of boards sort of the the examples, I think about the fellowship that I was a part of it wasn't a HERSA funded grant, but there were future grants that did look at faculty fellowships that we were then able to kind of really onboard and bring in new folks to the PA profession by that route, or the other grant that I just mentioned, kind of leveraged sort of faculty development, as well as addressing veteran and opioid. The other grant that looked at some longitudinal clinical experiences that maximize students being in underserved or rural areas, with the idea that you would be building relationships so that students might elect to go back and serve those communities after graduation

Unknown Speaker  20:41  
as well. Karen, I want to switch gears just a little bit, I'm going to draw upon something you said earlier from your past about your experience on the hill, and that comfort with advocacy and just knowing Washington DC. And I'd like to kind of connect that forward with work that PA is doing right now. Something that I think that pre PA students and perhaps even current PA students and faculty might not know about, but I think are really incredible opportunities are the student fellowships that pa puts on in, there's a fellowship for students who have an interest in being educators at some point that future educators fellowship, and then the Student Health Policy Fellowship. And so I think your experience on the Hill is a direct connection to the opportunities that that student health policy fellowship, can afford to PA students today, it'll really give them that comfort level. So can you talk a little bit about those initiatives that VA is doing?

Unknown Speaker  21:36  
Sure. And I was gonna say my colleague, Tyler Smith really is the one sort of behind that Student Health Policy Fellowship, and just really tailoring opportunities for engagement on the hill looking at issues that are affecting education as well as practice. And so I think for students that have that sort of policy bug or that advocacy bug, it's a great way again, to connect with a broader community to affect maybe change or to learn about how do you go and talk to legislators on Capitol Hill? How do you think about grassroots efforts back in your home communities? How do you think about actually advocating for changes that we need and, and recognizing sort of what resources you have and what you know what sort of talking points you need to hit over and over again, so I think that is really, as you pointed out, just a wonderful opportunity. I think Tyler and his team also are going to programs that virtually makes it very easy, but to share sort of, you're interested in advocacy, or here are some of the top issues that affect pa practice, affect you as a PA student, and kind of talk about those things as as something that just helps bring it to every pa student, if you like, even those who wouldn't necessarily be in the fellowship. I think the future educator fellowship is also designed in order to create that maybe initial pipeline towards a career in education. And it's run by the future educators Steering Committee, which plans kind of meaningful activities and I don't know if either of you all have ever had a chance to hear some of the rapid fire presentations at the forum. And I'm sure I see that you are shaking your heads, yes, that you know that you're just blown away by the caliber of presentation, the scholarly work, and you think about students who have done that, on top of obviously, the rigorous PA program that they're attending, but I think that those are exciting, sort of fellowship opportunities. I think there other student opportunities through Project Access and other student directed, I think at pa we think of our students as stakeholders, as you know, our members are the programs specifically and obviously students as part of programs are considered stakeholders in sort of our arena of of who do we serve?

Unknown Speaker  24:21  
So speaking of serving, you have served PA, your current employer in in a number of different capacities. You certainly have had experience as a volunteer like Kevin and I, you are a past president of PA EA, so you have served pa in a volunteer capacity. But you also now currently hold hold a role at pa so why don't you talk a little bit about maybe both of those experience and tell us about that?

Unknown Speaker  24:47  
Sure. Well, I think we've talked a lot about community and I think that sense of PA community whether you're a student or a faculty member, and I think one of the things that has been so hard In the last couple years is I think our PA community has really missed the the touchstones that we've had to all get together, I think virtually we have done our best to connect and to stay connected. And I think from a perspective of my current role, certainly in the last couple years, trying to make sure that we have sort of that virtual engagement that allows people to get sort of just in time, maybe faculty development or information that they need. I think I think about you know, when we were all transitioning to the virtual classroom, sort of really trying to have the the webinars that said, you know, how to virtualize your classroom in the next 30 minutes kind of thing? And how do we look at telehealth experiences, I think, how do we make sure we as faculty members have a strong camera presence and good sort of facilitation of the virtual space. But also, one of the things we did for students at the time was a sort of camera ready for PA students who might be suddenly looking at, oh, gosh, I'm doing telehealth visits? And how do I come across as professional and knowledgeable in the virtual space. So lots of kind of that going on in the last couple years, I think I started talking about community because my service on pa as a volunteer and then ultimately, as president of the board, you know, was our chance to both broaden my own sense of community and comrades and colleagues and but it was also a chance to really hone some leadership skills that I think was a unique and valuable opportunity to we're in the midst of our our call for nominations for the PA board. And I had the privilege of listening to some current board members talking about sort of their experience. And all of them talked about just the opportunity for both leadership and formalized leadership training. And I think that's something that PAA does a good job of helping to develop leaders within our profession. And I think from a volunteer perspective, that's something that I would say, the three of us have probably benefited from in terms of the types of opportunities to engage with professionals put things into practice as leading a national organization. So I feel like my perspective as a former member of former volunteer faculty, when I am doing my work at PA, like, I feel like all of those things helped to inform me in ways that hopefully, I'm able to serve the faculty in the best way possible by by sharing experiences and expertise, but also providing that, that support because it is hard being a program director, it is hard being, you know, starting a new program, it is it is hard being a clinical coordinator, I think if once you've been a clinical coordinator, you never forget that there are sometimes 900 rotations you need to get for any given class. And on any given day. They can they can work or they might not work. And so you might have to pivot, you talked about sort of that flexibility. I think all of those things come into play. When I when I think about my role currently at PA and my past role with pa

Unknown Speaker  28:45  
turn, I think you brought something really interesting to me, which is I think you talked about how the three of us having been on the board had benefited from that leadership development intentionality that the organization has. And I just want to put a plug out there that for the institutions that maybe don't understand how that benefits them, when they just see the program director being gone, or the faculty member being out for maybe 30 days out of the year working with the organization, they don't see the benefit to them. But the truth is, at least from my experience, it gave me a set of tools to bring back to the university that allowed us to be better positioned to advocate for the program to advocate for the institution to contribute to the institutional growth and development, particularly in areas like hot topic areas. So I just want to put in that plug because I think you nailed it. It's super valuable to the profession, but just as valuable, if not more so to the organization that they come from.

Unknown Speaker  29:41  
Yeah, and I think Kevin, that is such a good point. And I think to the opportunities for collaboration, whether it's on research projects or scholarly endeavors, it also kind of your world expands in a way that you bring in so much to the institution at large So you're right. It may be like, if you're trying to say to your institution like why they should support your, you know, involvement in PA, I think that's just a really good point that you're, you're bringing stuff back. You're not just, you're not just a way volunteering.

Unknown Speaker  30:21  
Yeah, yeah, it's not a zero sum sum offer. So as we come off the initial pandemic, obviously, there is some indication that we're going to be living with this in some variant or another for a while. But as we come off the initial pandemic, and that that kind of shift that you alluded to earlier, what does pa education look like in the coming years to you and Pa?

Unknown Speaker  30:43  
Yeah, and I think taking advantage of all that we have learned in this last two plus years, to make sure that we don't lose the things that have been good about this time. I think we talk a lot about from a faculty development perspective at pa sort of flexible programming in the sense of how do we leverage the technology to stay connected virtually. But how do we also then not miss out on the things that really are much better, perhaps delivered or engaged in in in person? And so how do we kind of create that ongoing continuum? And I would see that from a PA program perspective, too, is Have there been flexible ways that students have been able to engage in the material that were by necessity because of the pandemic? But if you look at Gosh, that really afforded, you know, broader accessibility or opportunity for students to do things when they were at their best, not just because it was a scheduled time? Or does it allow for really maximizing your in person and your small group learning or your skills learning in ways that don't wear people out by just maybe being in a classroom? listening to a lecture for eight hours a day? Does it remind programs of the greater humanity of students? You know, I think we so often as educators, we see that one, that one slice of who they are as the student in the classroom, and I think the, the pandemic has really broaden that view of wait, here's that whole person that might be, you know, I didn't realize they were caring for not only children at home, but maybe an elderly, parent, or family member, or Ha, I am much more clued in to all of the digital divide and access to internet and web services, or Wow, students are incredibly creative. Let's leverage these technology in ways that we didn't have them making videos or public service announcements or things that really capture their attention and their creativity, our student board member actually was on a reaction panel. And she was talking about the teaching strategies coffee chat that we had. And she said that she was thinking about how one of her instructors had done something, you know, a gallery walk, where they had to draw a funny pictures about certain physiological functions. And she said, drawing funny pictures than walking around and explaining them to class or having classmates explain them to her or her explaining her drawing to them. She said, Oh, my gosh, I learned so much because I have this mental image of the funny picture as it related to this particular element of physiology or clinical medicine or whatever it is. And so kind of leveraging the the creative side of things. And I think one of you talked about just the massive amount of material that students are required to take advantage of and learn about, and I think how we maybe make things maybe more digestible for them and not just say, Okay, here's the PowerPoint with 86 slides and all of the factoids you need to know. But here's how we really engage students in a way that allow them to to have ownership as well as input into their learning. So I think those are things that just come to mind as we're talking today.

Unknown Speaker  34:54  
So that concept of digestible bits of information I've been hearing that now through a wide variety of lenses, and it seems like the programs that have the the sponsoring institution as the instructional designers to support the program. That seems it's just an observation that we're getting that kind of similar feedback about how archaic our approach to teaching medical education. And in fact, maybe perhaps the new learners. And I'm not saying young learners, just the digital age learners need it in a different way. So Can you expound upon that a little bit? Are you getting that same thing from the instructional design community? Or what is your vision for that? digestibility?

Unknown Speaker  35:38  
Yeah, and I think the the instructional designers absolutely, I think when you are thinking about sort of that resource, and your institution, having that available for you is, is really an incredible, we've just finished at pa EA, this coffee chat series that looked at teaching strategies, and it looked at a lot of things related to sort of different modalities and different ways of kind of bringing education forward. And one of the speakers talked about lectures aren't bad lectures are, are just one modality. And so you want to use a lecture for its maximum sort of impact, if you will. And you also don't want to just throw a multitude of things at students all at once and say, Okay, so now we're switching gears, and now you're doing a gallery walk, or now you're doing a reflection five minute or now you're doing a jigsaw or a fishbowl or whatever. But you want to think about okay, well, what is it that I am intentionally trying to teach? What is the concept I want folks to walk out of here with? And what is the best modality to deliver that. And so I think leveraging those resources, I think we would all agree that we came in to PA education, by way of being good clinicians, and perhaps, maybe precept precepting. But I certainly wasn't formally trained as an educator, I was maybe more of a subject matter expert in certain topics of medicine. And so I think, as more pa faculty are looking at opportunities to get whether it's a another degree or a certification in education, people are bringing those things to their programs. And I think that, that knowledge and expertise is helpful. I think there's so much just opportunity now to not just do things the way they were always done. And I think you kind of have that permission, it doesn't mean that you can just snap your fingers and it happens. But I would say this is another place where leveraging the the community of of PAs that are out there sort of interested and, and, and sharing, I think the thing is, too, I think our PA community is very open and willing to sharing their resources, sharing their ideas, and saying, Hey, this kind of worked here. It maybe we can tailor it, you know, in Arizona or in Nebraska. So, yeah,

Unknown Speaker  38:23  
yeah, I think you're right. And it's interesting you say that, because early on, we were talking with Ruth Barwick this season. And Ruth talked about how they, they shared grants, they shared the curriculum, they shared everything to help the profession stand up. And it's good to see that that part of our DNA is not gone. The other thing is interesting, you You brought up a point about this, not mixing it up too much. The other thing is each class I've found has their own identity. So for example, we would use coded to ask fun questions and a little get the competitive juices flowing after a lecture. And one class would be like, we want more, we want more tributed. And then the next class comes in the following year. And you know, with good thinking, wow, my evaluations are great, because I did this and they hate it. You have to have that, to your point, flexibility. I think that really helps.

Unknown Speaker  39:14  
And I think Kevin, what you just said about knowing your students and recognizing that one cohort may be different than another and sort of, but but leaning into that or being intentional about okay, well, well how do I meet your needs? Or how do we move forward in this space rather than just as a like, this is why I did it and I'm gonna keep doing it kind of

Unknown Speaker  39:41  
thing. Yeah, that's one thing that I think I've really appreciated about pa education MPA educators as I think that we do tend to be very nimble and open to trying different things and that that level of collaboration between educators I know I have benefited greatly from it, you know, my ability to When I've been struggling with problem solving through something, or if I've been thinking about trying something innovative, to be able to reach out to other educators, and people are just so free with sharing information, sharing best practices, sharing their experiences. So I think that's one of the characteristics that I embrace the most about our profession. Well, Karen, in closing, we always like to give our guests just an opportunity to share some final thoughts. If there's anything that we didn't address that you were hoping to discuss today, we'd love for you to have the opportunity to share some some final words with us.

Unknown Speaker  40:31  
Well, I think I would say, sort of, as I started out, I would just say the PA profession, to me is, is truly a great one. And just one that I feel like has really afforded me over the course of my career, so much opportunity to grow and learn, to give back to be part of a community to to impact patient lives to be part of something bigger than oneself. And I think as an educator, when you think about the students whose lives you've impacted, and then the lives of the patients that they are going to go on an impact. It's a really both humbling and highly gratifying feeling. And I think, as you all are reaching out to the perhaps pre pas, the applicants, the the students who are thinking, Gosh, what did I get myself into? I really think this is one of the best careers that somebody can get themselves into.

Unknown Speaker  41:38  
Well, thank you so much for spending some time with us today and sharing some of your experience and your wisdom. And we thank you for your contributions to the PA profession and for the great work that you're doing in that Pa on behalf of all programs. Thanks for Thanks for being with us today.

Unknown Speaker  41:55  
It's been my pleasure.

Unknown Speaker  41:57  
We'd like to thank our guest Miss Terry hills from PHP for sharing her insights and perspectives about the PA profession, and life after the pandemic. She had some great resources for us to consider as educators, and also some great resources for students who want to get into fellowships. To the next week as we speak to Dr. Meredith Davidson from the University of Oklahoma. It's also about her role with the PA profession as both a PA program director, a dean and also a commissioner with the accreditation review commission on education for pas. Until next time, I wish you success with whatever path you are walking in life. And thank you for joining us. Some of the podcasts which provide news and information on the PA profession and is for informational purposes. The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and guests do not necessarily reflect the official position or policy of the University of Arizona.

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Stephane VanderMeulen, MA, MPAS, PA-CProfile Photo

Stephane VanderMeulen, MA, MPAS, PA-C

Department Chair and Director

Stephane VanderMeulen MA, MPAS, PA-C is Chair of the Department of Health Professions and Program Director of the PA program at the Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska. Ms. VanderMeulen is a 1994 graduate of the University of Nebraska Medical Center PA program and she also holds a Master of Social Gerontology from the University of Nebraska Omaha. Stephane practiced clinically in the fields of rural family medicine and orthopedics/sports medicine before beginning her career in PA education in 2005. She is an active advocate for PAs in education and practice and has served in professional organizations at both the state and national level. Ms. VanderMeulen served on the board of directors of the Physician Assistant Education Association for seven years, with two terms as Director at Large before being elected President in 2015. She is dedicated to the professional development of PAs in education and remains active as a mentor for PA educators.

Karen HillsProfile Photo

Karen Hills

PA Educator

Karen Hills is the Chief of Educational Development for the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA). She is a Professor-Emeritus Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, NC. Before joining PAEA, she was on faculty at the Duke University PA Program for 16 years having served as program director from 2013-2017. She received her master’s degree in health fitness management from the American University in Washington, DC and her PA certificate from the Wake Forest University Physician Assistant Program. Ms. Hills is a certified facilitator in The Leadership Challenge and is a facilitator for Crucial Conversations. In response to COVID-19, Ms. Hills has been involved in virtualizing faculty development opportunities through webinars, modules and online trainings.